Social media can be a double edged sword. It allows us to find and, in some small way, be a part of people's lives, even those we don't speak to or have any other contact with.
It allows us to feel connected but then, sometimes, you remember that there might have been a reason you stopped speaking to that person: because you kind of hate them. Or at least, you don't want to hear from that much.
Inevitably, those are also the people who post new "incites" every 10 minutes. Oh, you just brushed your teeth and your mouth feels clean? Tell me more!
On Facebook we've had the option of hiding posts from those people on our newsfeeds for a while, but on Twitter the only thing you could do was unfollow them or block them. And, to many, I guess that is kind of a drastic action to take, since the whole point is to build a network, not to destroy it (unless you really have to).
So now, with the debut of the mute button on Monday, Twitter is letting its users have it both ways: keep the same number of people in its orbit, but also not make them actually pay attention to those people. It's the best of both worlds!
The button, Twitter say, gives users even more control over the content that see on Twitter by letting them remove a user’s content from key parts of your Twitter experience, including from their home timeline, as well as from push or SMS notifications.
The best part: the other user will never know they have been muted. They can still reply to the user's tweet, retweet them and favorite it them.
To mute someone, all that you have to do tap "more" and then mute that specific username. They can also be muted directly from their profile page by tapping the gear icon on the page and then choosing mute @username.
The feature is being made available on Twitter's iPhone and Android apps and on twitter.com.
Twitter protecting users
Since the muted user can still reply and have access to tweets, this option would not work in the case of someone being abusive or stalkerish on the network. The mute feature is only for those that people find annoying, or obstrusive.
For really bad cases, users would have to use the block feature instead. Or they can report the abuse.
Last year, Twitter came under fire in England after Caroline Criado-Perez, a freelance journalist, was barraged with a series of rape threats following her successful campaign to get Jane Austen's face onto the 10 pound note.
As a result, the company updates its Rules and Terms of Service, and created an in-app report abuse button.
The mute button, like I said, doesn't exactly fall into the same category as the times when actions like that would need to be taken, but it does jive with Twitter's goal of giving users the safest, and most enjoyable, experience they can.
Even if that means that your incessant postings about your cat are now going to be muted across accounts everywhere.
(Image source: dixieswanson.com)